A Dauphin woman is worried her 93-year-old mother is at risk of getting COVID-19, because the personal care home she just moved into has already been visited by vaccination teams.
There’s no timeline on when they may return for the unvaccinated senior, says Irene Yarema.
“Some days I feel like crying, honestly, because I feel like if I’m not going to be on top of it, she’s going to fall through the cracks,” she said.
Yarema’s mother, Helen, had been living in the Happy Haven supportive living centre in Dauphin since May 2020. By the end of the year, her health deteriorated and she was scheduled to be moved to St. Paul’s Personal Care Home, just a block away in the western Manitoba city.
After some delays, she finally moved to St. Paul’s two weeks ago, but by then most residents there had already received both doses of their COVID-19 vaccines. Helen hasn’t been vaccinated at all.
“Here’s my mother, who is 93 years old — I kind of fear for her life,” said Yarema.
She worries about what will happen as restrictions within the home loosen and more visitors are allowed in the home. As well, as of Thursday, her mom will be done her quarantine and will be able to use common areas.
Yarema hoped she could take her mother back to Happy Haven, where residents are scheduled to get their first doses this week, to be vaccinated, but was told her mom isn’t allowed to leave the personal care home.
She’s called her local health authority to find out when her mom might be able to get the vaccine at St. Paul’s.
“They said, ‘Yeah, your mom’s on the list,’ but nobody can give me a date.”
She says if she had known about the vaccination issues, she would have fought to keep her mother at the assisted living facility until she got vaccinated there.
When Yarema raised her concerns with the administrator at the personal care home, she was told her mom may have to wait until there are enough others there who need a vaccine as well.
“Some people say it’s five, some people say six, some people said it was 10, so I’m not even sure how many you need,” said Yarema.
“We have no idea when she’s going to get vaccinated.”
Preventing vaccine wastage a factor
Manitoba’s focused immunization teams finished administering second doses of vaccine at personal care homes last week, said a spokesperson for the provincial government. Now, to prevent doses going to waste, those sites will have to let the team know when they have a certain number of people who need to be vaccinated.
For regions using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, care homes must have at least six people who need the shot. For Moderna regions, there must be at least eight people, the spokesperson said.
People can also attend an immunization clinic when eligible, they added.
Yarema says she doesn’t know how many others in her mother’s care home may also be waiting for a vaccine, but doesn’t think her mom should have to wait.
“I just want them to have a plan for new admissions — either vaccinate them before they come, or at least have people talking to each other so that people don’t fall through the cracks,” she said.
The CEO of a national seniors’ advocacy group agrees that each new resident coming into a care home should be vaccinated.
“They can be vaccinated before they come in, or they can be vaccinated upon entry,” said Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge.
People entering those facilities are already at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and suffering severe outcomes, she said. Vaccinating new care home residents, and people on the wait-list, would also help keep any forms of the coronavirus from being brought into the facility.
“It’s going to be a key requirement that we make sure that everyone who can be vaccinated gets vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Tamblyn Watts.
WATCH | Daughter worried 93-year-old mother missed her chance to get COVID-19 vaccine:
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